Chapter 17 – The battle for the sawmills (4)
“You probably have not seen it before. They look a little like a bear that stands on both its feet at over two meters covered in fur, and hold some form of blood relationship with the surface’s Earth Spirits. They are far stronger than their numerous distant relatives. It’s almost a subspecies which has powerful physical strength. Their whelps can match a fully grown man.” Brendel explained slowly. “These bears wield a flail and large shield on their hands, while the Subterrane Dwellers dig tunnels beneath them to bypass fortified areas, they are quite the troublesome combination— Since they coexist together, there might be Earth Spirit Bears.”
The people around Brendel were astonished and cast their gazes back at the Sawmill. The gate was once again raised noisily as another group of Subterrane Dwellers walked out. There were heavy lumbering footsteps that could be heard behind them. Three hulking creatures walked out, carrying huge shields and flails that dragged behind them.
Even though Brendel described them as bears, they could hardly see the resemblance. Their bodies were covered in long shaggy brown fur; their heads seemed like they sat flatly on their shoulders and had no neck. However, everyone cast impressed eyes at Brendel’s near perfect depiction of the new creatures.
Jana stared at Brendel in silence, as though she wanted to find something any signs that revealed a truth about him.
“I have seen these things before,” Raban suddenly stood up and said as he glared at the monsters that made their way across the river, “I encountered them in Karsuk once. These things are so powerful that they easily swiped away a dozen soldiers.” His expression changed deeply for the first time, “My lord, are you certain that these creatures are also considered as a Tier 1 army like you said earlier?”
Brendel nodded, “The representation of the might of an army isn’t done by me. It was originally created by the four different Holy Cathedrals. Their classifications not only look at the individual strength of a single unit but also how effective they are in an army. These Earth Spirit Bears are not intelligent creatures and are incompatible with any other Underworld creatures. These Subterrane Dwellers had coexisted with them for a long time, and because of that, they are able to form a specific type of strategy with them. Otherwise, these foolish creatures will probably be taken off the list.”
Raban nodded and did not speak any further. Brendel had told him earlier that his men would not be in any danger even if the enemies sent out their entire forces at them. But the other mercenaries had no idea what was happening, and could only watch nervously.
As the new reinforcements crossed over halfway, the two squadrons of Subterrane Dwellers that surrounded the small fortress gave a small opening to allow the new reinforcements to join in the fight. There was an odd silence amongst the mercenaries in the forest, as they thought the team of mercenaries on the small fortress were doomed and somehow used as sacrifices.
The shrill calls happened again as soon as their new reinforcements were in place to join the battle. They rushed towards the fortress with blood-curdling roars, when they suddenly felt a sudden change in the air.
The two crossbowmen suddenly laid down their crossbows and unsheathed their weapons from their backs. Strange sigils were carved onto their blades, gleaming brightly under the sun.
“Magic swords!” Someone amongst the mercenaries in the forest shouted in surprise.
And they were not the more common low-grade Magic Swords made by alchemists, but a fully enchanted blade that made the difference against an opponent of similar capabilities.
Whispers started spreading amongst them as they wondered who the two crossbowmen were from. A few cast their gazes at the three commanders as they were the only ones who would possess such precious weapons.
But the three commanders had the same question, although they all believed that none of them possessed such weapons.
The surprise turned into gasps. Two lines of light swung across the walls. The Subterrane Dwellers that managed to jump onto the walls were severed cleanly into two. Only the three mercenaries’ commanders had that level of skill.
“Who are those two?” Jana turned her head back and asked: “Cornelius, are they your men?”
But Cornelius did not have the mood to answer her words. He finally recognized the pair of swords. The two men were actually the two angels who followed Brendel that night. He could finally understand why Raban agreed to allow his best wizard to become bait. If there were two flying angels who could escape anytime with his men, was there anything to be worried about?
The Earth Spirit Bears closed in with large strides and swung their flails at the fortress’ walls. A resounding crash split the walls open, causing fissures along the top. The angels then grabbed the mercenaries and flew up into the air before landing onto the ground a certain distance away.
To the blind Subterrane Dwellers, it was as if they had jumped from the wall. They screamed excitedly and rushed towards them.
But right at that moment, a loud horn rang out in the distance, and a group of fifty-odd riders came rushing out led by the Nightsong Tiger, surprising the three commanders. Brendel had secretly prepared a fourth group of mercenaries led by the Mercenaries of Lopes, with the exception of the Nightsong Tiger, a certain distance away from the main group of mercenaries in order to cover their rear when they traveled to the sawmill.
“My lord, this is—” Raban suddenly realized what Brendel was doing. The youth was gradually increasing the number of soldiers to lure the Subterrane Dwellers to come out of the fortress. If there were too many attackers at a given time, they might be guarded and refuse to come out. But with each iteration of reinforcements to threaten the Underworld creatures that were already on the field, they might actually be provoked enough to send out their entire force!
“This is the Nightsong Tiger’s idea,” Brendel’s eyes glinted as he studied the river’s coastline, “the Subterrane Dwellers have sent out their allies because they didn’t want to give up on taking down the bait. Now that they are in danger they would send out their entire forces to minimize casualties. After all, the population in the Underworld is too precious. Well, it’s not just the NPCs, sometimes the gamers will make that kind of mistake as well…..”
He started giggling with a perverted smile when he saw the mercenaries of ‘Team Bait’ cheering when they realized the reinforcements had arrived.
[Oops. That was sort of mean; I shouldn’t laugh at the baits’ reactions.]
When the Nightsong Tiger mentioned this idea, he immediately understood that it would work. It was no different to how the gamers exploited the psychology of the Underworld’s denizens.
“NPCs, gamers?” Raban interrupted his thoughts with a question.
Brendel coughed and replied: “Don’t get distracted, it’s nearly time for us to take action. Look at the sawmill.”
The three commanders twisted their heads at the same time. The sawmill’s gates were raised up. Indeed, this time it was not a single gate, but three gates that were raised up from the fortress. Long streams of Subterrane Dwellers seemed to appear from thin air as they swarmed out of the sawmill. Cornelius immediately paled while he quickly counted and estimated there were over two hundred creatures. He inhaled deeply and released a cold breath.
[Marsha above, surely these creatures wouldn’t leave the sawmill completely undefended, doesn’t that mean there are over three hundred of these creatures? Luring the majority out is one thing, but even if we make them lose the advantage of the fortified position, that doesn’t mean we can take them down, we’re outnumbered!]
Brendel quietly watched the Subterrane Dwellers wade across the river. Their goal was definitely to rescue their own, and judging from their speed; they did have the capability to do so. Brendel finally stood up, ignoring the three mercenaries’ commanders unpleasant expressions.
He snapped his fingers and caught the attention of the mercenaries around him. He gestured with his hand, ‘Men, ready your crossbows, now!’
Everyone was momentarily taken aback. Witnessing the monsters in action had caused them to lack the courage to do battle. In addition to that, they were confused about readying their weapons when half the enemy was still on the coastline. Still, no one dared to disobey his orders, even if they did not acknowledge him as the commander. Their comrades were still on the coastline, and their commanders had pledged their loyalty to him.
They quickly took their crossbows off from their backs and drew back their strings to load them. They had been warned to do it as silently as possible, and they took their time to do it. Each crossbow was readied with a soft twang.
‘Aim.’ He relayed his next order.
His timing was perfect. The new batches of Subterrane Dwellers and Earth Spirit Bears had just reached their destination, just when the mercenaries finished loading their projectiles. The three commanders looked at him in incredulity. This was the first time they had seen Brendel commanding, and it was no coincidence that he timed it accurately.
Brendel merely smiled inwardly at their reaction. Most of Aouine’s mercenaries roughly had the same capabilities, and the scenario he had now proved that his timing was not off when he compared it to the gaming.
Even if it was a group of Wind Spirit Riders on the other side, he could still have the mercenaries to get the first strike.
At that moment, three hundred mercenaries readied their projectiles, be it wizards or gunners. Each one of them tracked down their targets, but the enemies’ robust hides made them wonder if they were going to be effective. They wondered if it was truly a warm-up like their commanders had told them.
Brendel waited for two more seconds and snapped his fingers.